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Leading Off (7/27/2015)

Popular Park Cities Personal Trainer Killed By Car. Michele Albanese was crossing the street at Travis and Armstrong, near the gym where she worked, around 12:30 pm Friday afternoon, when she was struck by a car going north on Travis Street. Police say Albanese was not at a crosswalk, failed to look both ways, and was talking on her phone when she was killed. The police have not released details about the driver of the vehicle. Very sad.

Dallas Makes Garth Brooks Feel Our Love. We’ve missed him in the two decades since the country singer last stopped by. It’s going to take seven shows at the American Airlines Center to accommodate the demand for tickets.

Boy Scouts End Ban On Gay Leaders Today. That’s the good news from the Irving-based organization, which will also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation for its paid positions. The bad news is that the new policy will still “allow church-run units to pick leaders who agree with their moral precepts,” according to the Morning News.

You Can All Officially Complain About The Heat Now. Dallas-Fort Worth achieved its first 100 degree day of the season over the weekend.

So Long. And thanks for all the fish. This is my last Leading Off, and after many years, my last day with D is this Friday. The September issue will be my last as the magazine’s managing editor. It’s been a fun and instructive ride, and I will remember you all with fondness. Mostly. It’s likely you’ll still see my byline here and there, so nobody worry too much.

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Leading Off (7/13/2015)

New Criminal History Monitoring Program Introduced at DFW Airport. The TSA has chosen DFW and Logan Airport in Boston to test an FBI pilot program called “Rap Back,” which is part of the Bureau’s massive biometric identification database. Rather than relying on just a one-time background check, the Rap Back program will use the fingerprints provided when an employee starts a job to continuously scan for future “felony-level” offenses. Per the Morning News, “other types of employees, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and even Little League coaches, may eventually be scrutinized by the program.”

Standoff At Omni Hotel Ends Peacefully. A man staying at the downtown hotel barricaded himself in a room Saturday afternoon, and allegedly told a friend who brought him a drink that it would be the last time that friend saw the man alive. The friend had noticed a gun in the hotel room, and alerted hotel security. SWAT was called, and streets surrounding the hotel blocked off. Happily, the man was taken into custody without incident.

Jordan Spieth Wins Again. He beat Tom Gillis at the John Deere Classic to go in to The Open in Scotland on an even higher note.

Greg Hardy’s Suspension Reduced To Four Games. The Cowboys’ defensive end had originally been suspended 10 games after the NFL found that choking and smacking his girlfriend was against the league’s personal conduct policy. But now his 10-game sentence has been reduced to four games, equal to the punishment of Tom Brady, who is suspended for deflating some footballs.

Jac Alder’s Memorial Is Tonight. Celebrate the life and work of the late founder of Theatre Three at Dallas City Performance Hall. The parking lot under the building with be free for the event. Doors open at 5:15, and the memorial starts at 6 pm.

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Podcast: Comedian Paul Varghese Talks Dallas Mavs and PC Culture

This one kind of got away from us, folks. With Tim vacationing, Eric Celeste stepped in to co-host alongside Zac at the Old Monk yesterday. The guest was comedian Paul Varghese, and while this trio generate an undoubtedly entertaining conversation, the talk did veer somewhat into territory unbecoming a family podcast.

So our more sensitive listener may want to be on guard against a bit of coarse language, and possibly just turn the episode off once the third segment — “Rocket Ships and Other Stuff” — begins.

Now, what you might want to know:

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Jennifer Hudson Surprises Gay Wedding in Dallas

This apparently happened last night at the W Hotel. The ceremony was part of “Turn It Up For Change,” which is a pro-marriage equality push sponsored by the hotel chain and Human Rights Campaign. Hudson is an “ambassador” for the program.

She pops out to perform just before the 2-minute mark in the video. Hope those grooms like her music. I mean, she only came in 7th her season on American Idol. They couldn’t book Fantasia? Or Ruben Studdard?

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And Speaking of the Arts District, Cultural Area Seeks New Master Plan

On the wind of the news of encroaching development on the fringes of the Arts District, the organization that oversees the architectural menagerie and collection of arts organizations has announced it will seek proposals for revisions to its community development plan.

The plan could use some updating. Originally created by Sasaki way back in the early-1980s, the area has changed dramatically over the years, and a booming local real estate economy necessitates readdressing the purpose and functional design of the Arts District.

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Say Goodbye to the Dallas Symphony’s di Suvero, Hello to Office Box

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. As the general building boom in and around downtown and Uptown continues, and Klyde Warren Park’s popularity transforms what were once undesirable lots abutting a freeway into the hottest plots of land in the region, someone noticed that there’s a well-located little parcel doing nothing more than housing a giant sculpture. And so, yesterday Steve Brown reported that the land at the southeast corner of Pearl St. and Woodall Rodgers Freeway will be sold by the Dallas Symphony to make way for a new office tower.

It makes perfect sense. A spokesperson with the symphony said the proceeds from the sale (estimated at $7.2 million, one of the highest prices ever for the Arts District) will go to fund symphony operations. And while the symphony has pushed through their own rocky financial times, the financial world around orchestras is ever an uneasy one. So from a symphony perspective, it’s fortuitous that the DSO had a little land to flip to shore up their operations. Bravo.

Of course there are concerns about the development — there always are.

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Don’t Forget to Tell Us How You #StayCoolDallas

Now that we’ve survived Tropical Storm Bill, our old friend the sun has reappeared to recommence the annual trial by fire known as summer in Dallas. Remember that you have until the end of this month to tell us how you #StayCoolDallas and thereby enter for a chance to win a $200 gift card to the Grove at Harwood. More info here.

Check out some of the entries we’ve received so far:

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Who Should Star In Dallas Ebola Movie?

Apparently, Bryan Burrough’s Vanity Fair piece on the Dallas Ebola crisis has been optioned for a movie. Naturally, it’s time to speculate on casting. I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this, so this is off the top of my head, but probably insanely insightful and spot-on, as usual. For county commissioner Clay Jenkins, I’d say this photo of the original Alfafa from the Little Rascals gang; we’ll find a voice soon.

Rawlings is actually pretty easy: a Travolta-esque comeback role for the autopilot from Airplane!

Airplane-autopilot

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Watch a Cool Video of a Flooded Trinity River

The photographer Scot Miller and his wife, Marilyn, own Sun to Moon Gallery, on East Levee Street, in the Design District. That’s also where they live. So the Trinity River more or less runs through their backyard. Scot spends a lot of time traipsing across the country to capture beautiful images, but for his next exhibit — titled “Nature in our Backyard: The Trinity River and Great Trinity Forest” — he didn’t have to travel far. Just over the levee. The show will feature work from three other photographers, too, and the opening reception is June 27. If you can’t make it, pick up a July copy of D Magazine. We’re publishing some of the images that will hang in the gallery. Scot also shoots video, and a couple of days ago, he posted this. Enjoy:

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The Daily Show Introduces the World to the ‘McKinney Bikini’

Last night on the Daily Show, after Jon Stewart recounted last Friday’s incident, correspondent Jessica Williams showed up dressed in a swimsuit with full body armor beneath: “a McKinney bikini.”

She joked that what happened at Craig Ranch actually represents progress since no black people ended up shot.

Afterward, on the Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore took aim at some of the “awkward media coverage,” including responding to a lame defense of the cop’s behavior by one neighborhood resident, who said that the officer had just done what anyone else would have done.

“No, anybody else would be like, ‘calm down teenagers while I arrest the crazy racist lady who started this s**t,'” Wilmore said. He followed that up by noting that Fox News’ morning show un-ironically broadcast a segment on summer pool safety just after reporting on what happened in McKinney. This prompted Wilmore to offer his own safety advice, first for white kids (“don’t run by the pool,” “don’t dive in the shallow end”) and then for black kids (“don’t go to the pool.”)

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New Podcast: A Meaty Discussion With Chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots

This week’s EarBurner guest is chef Brian Luscher of the Grape and Luscher’s Red Hots. At the Old Monk on Thursday he talked about his Deep Ellum hot dog joint (which also boasts one of the 20 best burgers in Dallas) and why the city’s business-friendliness doesn’t necessarily extend to small-scale operators. There’s also Chicago-accented talk of Joey Gallo’s recent heroics for the Texas Rangers and the end of the 5-cent bag fee.

Now to some corrections and notes to help you better enjoy the listening experience:

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Leading Off (6/5/15)

McKinney School Forbids Message of Tolerance. About 15 students at Faubion Middle School on Wednesday wore shirts sporting the phrase “Gay O.K” — in support of a seventh-grader who was being bullied — and were asked to change clothes. The district spokesman said administrators’ concerns had nothing to do with the specific content of the students’ message, but instead were regarding the potential for disruptions.

Flood Damages Cost Millions. Sewage has spilled into Lake Carolyn in Irving, and it can’t be cleaned up until the water recedes. Restoring Dallas parks and golf courses will likely cost more than $2.6 million, and the city has no insurance to cover it. On the other hand, marinas and other businesses on Lake Bridgeport are happy that water levels there have risen 27 feet in the last month.

Police Union Criticizes Department For Disciplining Officers. Fort Worth Police had reassigned one officer and placed another on leave as a result of their actions at the end of last week’s slow-speed chase. Their lawyer called these measures a “knee-jerk reaction.”

State Highway 360 Buckles. The southbound ramp to the road coming from the south exit of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has raised 8 to 10 inches above the surrounding pavement in one section, creating a speed bump that sent cars airborne as they drove over it. It’s been closed until repairs can be made Friday.

Mark Cuban as the President of the United States: (see below.)

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Which Book Should We Force Dallas Schoolkids to Read Next?

Question: What should be the Big D Reads 2016 book? — Krista N.

Firstly, I am compelled as a man of conscience to challenge the premise of your question. I’m not at all convinced that it is proper to encourage the unwashed masses towards literary interests. Consider: we spend untold billions of public dollars teaching children to translate ancient Roman symbols into the familiar phonemes of modern English vernacular only to see dreck like this elevated to the top of best-seller lists:

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#StayCoolDallas and Win a $200 Gift Card

Today could be the first 90-degree day of 2015 in North Texas, so there may be no better time to prepare yourself for the inevitable onslaught of summer’s heat than by reading the cover story of the June issue of D Magazine. There you’ll find ice cream and snow cones, water parks and “chill” patios.

But we’d also like to see your favorite means of surviving through the high temperatures: frozen cocktails, icy treats, pool pics, or wherever you like to settle down for a nap outdoors in the shade. Just share a photo on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter using the #staycooldallas through June 30 to enter for a chance to win a $200 gift card to the Grove at Harwood.

And now, because I grew up with a mother for whom every sentence I said to her could become a Broadway song cue, I can’t help but post this in response to the hashtag for this month’s contest:

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